POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Senate approves hundreds of military promotions after GOP senator ends blockade of nominees

Dec 5, 2023, 4:26 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm

FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talks to rep...

FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talks to reporters as he and other senators arrive at the chamber for votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. Tuberville announced on Tuesday, Dec. 5, that he’s ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism from many of his colleagues in the Senate and clearing the way for hundreds to be approved. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate in a single stroke Tuesday approved about 425 military promotions after Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama ended a monthslong blockade of nominations over his opposition to a Pentagon abortion policy.

Tuberville had been under pressure from members of both sides of the political aisle to end his holds as senators complained about the toll it was taking on service members and their families, and on military readiness.

“Thank God, these military officers will now get the promotion they so rightfully earned,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

 

Post by @senatordurbin
View on Threads

 

The action came hours after Tuberville said Tuesday he’s “not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer.” He said holds would continue, however, for about 11 of the highest-ranking military officers, those who would be promoted to what he described as the four-star level or above.

There were 451 military officers affected by the holds as of Nov. 27. It’s a stance that has left key national security positions unfilled and military families with an uncertain path forward.

Tuberville was blocking the nominations in opposition to Pentagon rules that allow travel reimbursement when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care. President Joe Biden’s administration instituted the new rules after the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to an abortion, and some states have limited or banned the procedure.

“Well, certainly we’re encouraged by the news,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing Tuesday. “We continue to stay engaged with Senator Tuberville in the Senate directly, to urge that all holds on all our general flag officer nominations be lifted.”

Critics said that Tuberville’s tactics were a mistake because he was blocking the promotions of people who had nothing to do with the policy he opposed.

“Why are we punishing American heroes who have nothing to with the dispute?” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. “Remember, we are against the Biden abortion travel policy. But why are we punishing people who have nothing to do with the dispute and if they get confirmed can’t fix it? No one has had an answer for that question because there is no answer.”

For months, many of the military officers directly impacted by Tuberville’s holds declined to speak out, for fear any comments would be seen as political. But as the pressures on their lives and the lives of the officers serving under them increased, they began to speak about how not being able to resettle their families in new communities was impacting not only them, but their military kids and spouses.

They talked about how some of their most talented junior officers were going to get out of the military because of the instability they saw around them, and they talked about how having to perform multiple roles because of so many vacancies was putting enormous additional stress on an already overworked military community.

The issue came to a head when U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith suffered a heart attack in October, just two days after he’d talked about the stress of the holds at a military conference.

“We can’t continue to do this to these good families. Some of these groups that are all for these holds, they haven’t thought through the implication of the harm it’s doing to real American families,” said Sen. Joni Ersnt, R-Iowa.

In response to the holds, Democrats had vowed to take up a resolution that would allow the Senate to confirm groups of military nominees at once during the remainder of the congressional term, but Republicans worried that the change could erode the powers of the minority in the Senate.

Tuberville emerged from a closed-door luncheon with his GOP colleagues, saying “all of us are against a rule change in the Senate.” He was adamant that “we did the right thing for the unborn and for our military” by fighting back against executive overreach. He expressed no regrets but admitted he fell short in his effort.

“The only opportunity you got to get the people on the left up here to listen to you in the minority is to put a hold on something, and that’s what we did,” Tuberville said. “We didn’t get the win that we wanted. We’ve still got a bad policy.”

In the end, Schumer said Tuberville ended up failing to get anything that he wanted and held it out as a warning to others who might attempt similar efforts in the future to undo policies they oppose.

“The senior senator from Alabama has nothing to show for his 10 months of delay. No law is changing in any way,” Schumer said.
Sen. Jack Reed, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after the vote that the first thing he wanted to do was to apologize to the hundreds of officers whose promotions were stalled.

“We have to recognize in the future, we can never do this again,” Reed said.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Tara Copp contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

A proposed bill, HB351, would allow teen drivers to have a single friend in the car, which Utah's s...

Daniel Woodruff

New teen drivers still can’t have friends in car after Utah bill fails

Utah Senate Democrats scored a rare legislative victory this week when they defeated a bill loosening the law for new young drivers.

2 hours ago

voting location...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

What is a caucus? How to vote in Utah’s Republican, Democratic presidential contests Tuesday

The November presidential election is still months away, but Utahns will have the chance to weigh in on who advances from each major party on March 5.

3 hours ago

Ryan Smith posted this image to X on Tuesday, showing a new NBA and NHL arena anchoring what he cal...

Josh Ellis and Linsday Aerts

Lawmakers debate NHL arena funding as Church supports project’s potential to ‘revitalize downtown’

The Utah House of Representatives is continuing to discuss a bill to fund a National Hockey League stadium and “sports and entertainment” district in downtown Salt Lake City as the clock ticks down on the 2024 general legislative session.

5 hours ago

fences and buildings with an inmate walking on a snowy sidewalk...

Daniella Rivera

New Prison, New Problems: Inside the effort to staff Utah’s new $1 billion prison facility

Utah's new prison cost taxpayers more than a $ 1 billion, yet a scathing audit shows the new facility has been unsafe and still isn't being used as intended. After being granted unprecedented access, the KSL Investigators go inside the new prison for a look at what's being done to fix its new problems.

19 hours ago

crayons...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah Legislature approves allowing more children at unlicensed day care facilities

A bill in the Utah Legislature that aims to allow unlicensed providers to care for up to eight children instead of six passed the house and senate. It now awaits Gov. Cox's signature.

20 hours ago

a sign announcing rent...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah senators kill compromise bill giving tenants more notice of rent increases

A Utah lawmaker’s push to give tenants more notice of rent increases hit a wall as Republicans on a Senate committee voted not to advance it.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Senate approves hundreds of military promotions after GOP senator ends blockade of nominees